james harden

Originally published in SLAM 145

James Harden awoke with a start. It was the middle of the night, he was in his own bed, all was quiet. But he’d heard a voice. And before he could fall back asleep, the voice again, a little bit sharper: “James!”

That was it. He jumped out of bed, looked around. Nothing. “No, down here.” It sounded like it was coming from…himself. “Am I going crazy?” Harden wondered. “No, you’re not,” the voice came again. “Go in the bathroom, look in the mirror.” Harden padded into the bathroom, flipped on the lights. And that’s when he saw his beard speak.

Harden splashed water in his face. “What, are you surprised I can talk? Furry things this big usually have names, for God’s sake. You ever hear those stories about old men muttering into their beards? That’s the beards muttering. It gets boring hanging around all day, I tell you what.”

Harden answered slowly. “But why would you start talking now? And hey, shouldn’t I have heard of other beards doing this? Like Baron’s?!”

“Baron’s beard shut up after he yammed all over AK47 in the Playoffs,” the beard said firmly. “It may never speak again. Get the picture?”

“Yes, I got you. I will deal with this tomorrow. Can I go back to sleep now?”

Russ Bengtson